Saturday, July 27, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Letter to the Globe and Mail from XC Ottawa

By: Tom McCarthy

Note: This is a letter sent to the editor of the Globe and Mail Re: Politicians got de luxe treatment at Olympics - July 13th, 2002

One item on the front page of the Saturday Globe really caught my eye and stuck in my throat. The article describing the huge expenditures of money by our government representatives at the Salt Lake Olympics (Politicians got de luxe treatment at Olympics, July 13th) seems to me to be a scandal of far worse proportions than the HRDC boondoggle or the recent misspending of cultural grants.

Cross-country skiing is a sport which survives on very little government funding. The ski team that I race with, XC Ottawa, was started mostly by athletes formerly with the national team development system who became frustrated with the lack of funding and the inability to provide the proper infrastructure to develop world class athletes. Despite this lack of funding, cross-country skiing is a sport on the rise in Canada. Beckie Scott’s inspiring medal performance at Soldier Hollow, and the many other best-ever results by her and other Canadian women, are proof that we can succeed at cross-country skiing in Canada. We have some strong young athletes who are hungry to excel at the highest level.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to see these athletes grow tired of sport and retire because of frustrations related to a lack of national funding? Wouldn’t it be a shame not to be able to support these athletes and help them develop because the money dried up (Cross-Country Canada expects a one-third decrease in its budget in this post-Olympic year)? Wouldn’t it be the biggest shame of all to know that, due to a few greedy and self-indulgent politicians, our chances at more Olympic medals are gone?

$400,000 dollars is a huge sum of money for most of the Olympic sports. That sum of money represents the ability to replace old equipment with new, send twice as many athletes to world-class competitions, pay professional coaches to develop athletes properly, and fund our National Training Centre system so that it can actually function as a development program. The politicians and other bigwigs who wasted that money should be ashamed. Their selfishness has surely shattered the hopes and dreams of several Canadian athletes, athletes who in turn carry the hopes of a nation on their few broad shoulders.

Tom McCarthy
www.xcottawa.ca

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